Two bits of news from Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker, who spoke on a morning panel at the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s “Shale Gas Insight” conference:
The first: Shell isn’t the only company weighing whether or not to build an ethane cracker in western Pennsylvania. Walker was coy about this issue, saying the conversations he’s had with energy companies are confidential, but he did tell reporters the corporations involved are “all major companies that have the resources to do it.”
“Shell is the guinea pig,” Walker said. “If [the potential Beaver County facility] is successful you’re going to see more activity” along the Ohio River corridor.
Walker said the Corbett Administration would work to provide the same sort of tax breaks Shell received, but added, “we’re not at that stage yet.”
Shell benefited from a 15-year tax amnesty window, as well as a production tax credit that may top $1.7 billion. The company has yet to decide whether or not to move forward with the plant.
Second: Pennsylvania has won a $15 million federal grant for workforce development. The money will be used to train Pennsylvanians for drilling jobs, and comes from the Department of Labor. Here are more details from Senator Bob Casey’s office:
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $14.9 million grant to continue and expand ShaleNET, a Marcellus Shale workforce development program developed by a consortium led by Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC). Senator Casey visited WCCC earlier this year to support the grant application and personally urged the Department of Labor to approve the grant.
“ShaleNET has helped thousands of students gain the skills they need to find work in the natural gas industry,” said Senator Casey. “As the industry continues to expand we must ensure that Pennsylvania workers can tap into the good paying jobs being created, and I’m pleased ShaleNET will have the resources to continue working toward that goal.”
ShaleNET was established in 2010 by a WCCC-led consortium of community colleges in order to provide community-based job training in the natural gas drilling and production industry. Senator Casey fought for the funding used to establish ShaleNET as well as the grant announced today.
The grant announced today is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, established by legislation that Senator Casey led the fight to pass.